There’s big crash test news from the IIHS today showing that automakers could be doing a better job of protecting rear passengers. Plus, we’ve got a big Ram recall, a medium-sized IPO from Zeekr, and a new small Honda Civic Type R race car.
Welcome to The Morning Dump, bite-sized stories corralled into a single article for your morning perusal. If your morning coffee’s working a little too well, pull up a throne and have a gander at the best of the rest of yesterday.
There’s Still A Ways To Go For Rear Passenger Safety
As a parent, I’m constantly shuffling my child into the rear seat of my Subaru Forester. Do I think about her safety when I do so? Absolutely. Ok, some days I’m thinking: “OH MY GOD HOW IS IT ALREADY 8:30 WE ARE GOING TO BE SO LATE NO I DON’T CARE THAT THERE IS A ‘LINE’ IN YOUR SOCK YOU ARE GOING TO BE FINE JUST SIT IN THE CAR PLEASE PLEASE. SURE, YOU CAN HAVE A GUSHER. WHERE DID YOU EVEN FIND A GUSHER? YOU CAN EAT A WHOLE BOX. JUST SIT. OK, A BAG, THEY COME IN A BAG. I WAS WRONG!” But most days, it’s the safety thing. [Ed Note: What I wouldn’t give for a Gusher right now… -DT].
I therefore took a big gulp today when I saw the latest test results from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, which assessed rear seat occupant protection in a moderate overlap crash (this is crashing into something head-on at a slight offset — 40 percent of the width of the front-end hits a barrier). You can read the report here and see the test above. Here’s IIHS’s summary:
“The original moderate overlap test was our first evaluation and the lynchpin of the Institute’s crash testing program,” said IIHS President David Harkey. “Thanks to automakers’ improvements, drivers in most vehicles are nearly 50 percent less likely to be killed in a frontal crash today than they were 25 years ago. Our updated test is a challenge to manufacturers to bring those same benefits to the back seat.”
The group tested 15 of the most popular small SUVs (that’s what they call them, most of us would call them crossovers) and just two earned a “good” rating: the Ford Escape and the Volvo XC40. The Toyota RAV4 was “acceptable.” The Audi Q3, Nissan Rogue, and Subaru Forester earned a “marginal” rating. The other nine vehicles tested got a “poor” rating. Those were:
- Buick Encore
- Chevy Equinox
- Honda CR-V
- Honda HR-V
- Hyundai Tuscon
- Jeep Compass
- Jeep Renegade
- Mazda CX-5
- Mitsubishi Eclipse-Cross
One of the issues that comes up a lot with rear seat passengers is “submarining.” This is where the lap belt slides up the individual, causing the belt to pull force into a passenger’s abdomen, potentially causing an abdominal injury.
This is important work and there are two key details I want to highlight. First, all of these vehicles would have earned a “good” rating on the previous, less strict version of this test. Second, all of these problems are solvable and IIHs rightly takes credit for pushing automakers to improve their front passenger crash outcomes. Now it’s time for the little (or big) ones in the rear to get the same attention.
“We’re excited to launch the first frontal crash test in the U.S. to include a rear-occupant dummy,” said IIHS Senior Research Engineer Marcy Edwards, who led the development of the new evaluation. “This is a fantastic opportunity to rapidly deliver big safety benefits by adapting technologies that we already know to be effective.”
A lot of the proposed solutions from IIHS seem to be taking front seat technology (like airbags and seatbelt-tensioners) and making them standard for rear-seat passengers.
Honda Gets A New Civic Type-R Race Car
There’s a lot of great racing you aren’t regularly watching. Personally, on most weekends I think the competitiveness of an IndyCar race outshines the typical F1 parade. For overall fun, though, it’s hard to top IMSA’s Michelin Pilot Challenge. Where else in the United States will you see Supras battling Aston Martins in one class (Grand Sport) with Hyundais racing Alfas in the other (TCR)?
It’s extremely fun. Here are some highlights from last year:
One of the most successful cars over the last few years has been the Civic Type R TCR racer, which is built for Honda by JAS Motorsport in Italy. Though these cars start life as Civic Type Rs but get race suspension, a modified race engine, and are completely stripped down to make a pure track car that costs about a quarter-of-a-million dollars. There’s a new Civic Type R and so they just debuted the new race version (albeit in camo for some reason):
“We are delighted and excited to reveal the all-new Honda Civic Type R TCR, designed and built by JAS Motorsport at our specialist facility in Italy, and send our most sincere thank you to Honda for not only continuing to give us their blessing for this project, but for their renewed commitment to customer racing globally through a TCR program that we are incredibly proud to be at the center of. The new Type R TCR features significant enhancements in chassis, engine, suspension, and braking, while we’ve used the extensive knowledge gained through the NSX GT3 and Civic Type R TCR Customer Racing Programs to create our safest and most driver-friendly cockpit yet.” Mads Fischer, JAS Motorsports TCR Project Leader
It’s a little less boy-racer than the outgoing version, but I’m enjoying the rear treatment. Plus, Ryan Eversley is coming back to drive one. Who doesn’t love Ryan Eversley?
Stellantis Recalling 1.23 Million Rams Over Malfunctioning Tailgate
A tailgate has basically two jobs: Stay open and stay closed. The good news about the 2019-2022 Ram 1500, 2500, and 3500 pickups is that they’re great at the first job. The bad news is they may have an issue with that second job. Specifically, all Rams from these model years that have the standard tailgate (excluding the Ram 1500 Classic) and not the multi-function one have an issue where the tailgate might just randomly open while driving.
A routine review of customer service records led to a Stellantis investigation that discovered tailgate striker plates on certain pickup trucks may not be sufficiently aligned to accommodate complete closure. Such a condition, if it occurs, may put unsecured cargo at risk of spilling onto a roadway.
Stellantis is unaware of any potentially related injuries or accidents.
Oops! I once loaded up my then-girlfriend’s 1996 Ram 1500 with all the stuff from her dorm and did a remarkably shit job of securing the load and her stuff almost flew out of it as soon as we got on the road. After a quick readjustment and an emergency cheeseburger it was corrected. This was not fun and it’s kind of a shock she married me, so I’d recommend getting the free service if your truck is recalled. Full details here.
Zeekr Files For US IPO
You know who has two thumbs and non-ironically loves the Zeekr 009? THIS GUY! That shit rules. It’s an EV minivan that looks like a cross between a Kia Carnival, a Rolls-Royce, and a Minecraft waterfall. I have already bragged about my successful procreation so, yeah, my dad parts are excited.
As a matter of practice, I don’t invest directly in automotive securities as this would be a conflict-of-interest. I do have money in copper because, well, all this new EV infrastructure is going to need copper, but that’s fairly indirect. I mention all this because Reuters broke the news that Geely’s sub-brand Zeekr is filing for a U.S. Initial Public Offering so it can sell shares here:
Zeekr filed with U.S regulators last week, without providing any details on the size of its IPO or about its listing date, said Geely, which in October had laid out plans to spin off the subsidiary.
Reuters on Monday exclusively reported that Zeekr was aiming to raise more than $1 billion in its U.S. IPO and seeking a valuation of more than $10 billion. That compares with a valuation of about $9 billion in its maiden external fundraising last year.
You should not take stock advice from me (talk to a professional), but on sheer novelty alone I’d love to tell people I was deep into Zeekr. “Oh, you bought Tesla at $300? I bought Zeekr at $17!” I’d brag to them from the 009 I just bought with my sweet, sweet dividends.
This is a multi-parter: How important is a car’s safety rating to you? Do you have kids? Are there cars you wouldn’t put your kids into? [Editor’s Note: Do you think it’s possible to find a partner who would put their kids in, say, a 1994 diesel manual Chrysler Voyager? -DT].
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Photos: IIHS, Honda, Zeekr, Ram